In anticipation of Bruce Feldman coming on EDSBS Live tonight and helping us figure out the grand mysteries of life and spring practice, we will be covering them today, Unsolved Mysteries-style. If you need a soundtrack, please add ascending and descending synthesizer notes, at any point. It worked for Robert Stack, at least.
Unsolved Mysteries, Volume 1: The Nebraska Defense: Gone, in a week: the Nebraska defense was last seen playing on the field against the Nevada Wolfpack on September 1st, 2007. Then they disappeared completely, replaced instead by eleven palsied men who appeared to be either a.) in the process of being consumed by invisible flame, or b.) test subjects for the Air Force's new "pain cannon."
Nebraska's point per game average for 2007: 37.9 a game, a total that if read again by an elderly gentlemen scanning this piece in Lincoln, Nebraska, would cause a fatal defibrillation of his heart rate in seconds. Fortunately, old people fear computers just as they fear robots and goats. (They have the devil's eyes!) Particularly troubling about Nebraska's defensive collapse--and by this we mean something more troubling than allowing 40 points to Ball State--was the seniority of their defense. Three seniors across the middle at linebacker and half the defensive backfield were seniors.
Experience and senior leadership, both nostrums of "what a good team is" per coachspeak, did not help the Huskers, who were uniformly bad at pass defense (84th in the nation) and rush defense (116th. We'll type that again: 116th in the nation. The Blackshirts.) Apocalyptic doesn't approximate the sadness and completeness of their badness. Crap in a baking pan and place in your oven for three hours at 350 degrees, then open the oven while simultaneously shooting yourself in the face with pepper spray. You have just experienced one-eighth of how bad this defense was last year.
Mysteries: with many of the same players coming back on the defensive line and a new crew shuffling at linebacker, can they improve? Or is it a matter of physical law that they improve, because they simply could not be any worse? Or will they simply present a different, more blitz-y philosophy of disaster with Bo Pelini at the wheel, sucking this time on pass defense instead of rush defense, and thus doing Nebraska fans the favor of presenting a new flavor of misery?
Insert scary recreations of the Kansas game! Add smoky filter and us narrating this in a trenchcoat? And that's a wrap!